Since 2008 when I received a lifetime premium membership from an Actor’s website called Casting Call Pro (CCP), I virtually and by pure accident, discovered the art of developing a personal brand. CCP was my foundation, my base of operations for marketing myself and developing a personal brand online and over Social Media.
During a career in Market Research, I attended a one-day course called ‘Image is Everything’, an interesting course but I didn’t buy into the concept until many years later.
In a media, showbiz career, ‘Image’ can literally be the begin all and end all of everything. The same rings true in other fields of endeavour, be it personal, professional or you wish to be known for something other than the above. How we are perceived by others is important because simply put, it is their perceptions that count not yours, though you can influence how others see you. Let us look at a few points:-
- Write out how you want others to see you
- Focus on your values
- Stick to a timeframe
- If you want to be perceived a certain way, make sure you are consistent in how you act.
The above points are some of the things I have learned over the years. The hard way I might add.
Write out how you want others to see you
In our mind, our thoughts and mind’s eye we know how we want to be seen and perceived by others. The trouble is the image we have in our head, can be fleeting and in time forgotten. If you want to be seen in a certain way, commit it to paper – Write it down, type it out, print it and stick it in a place where you will see it each morning and evening. Invest in a note book and write it there and read it every day, changing that image as you change. Yes, you will change, as will the way people see you.
This should be something of a no-brainer but if I had a Pound or a Dollar for every time I mentioned this to people, I could crowdfund all my ideas, writing projects and develop the talents of others. Think of how you dress, what you wear. What are you telling people about yourself? I remember there was a German lady who worked in a different department of the market research company I worked for. She was overweight (which is no crime,) but her dress sense left a lot to be desired. Irrespective of the weather of the season she always wore black leggings (walking around London – it seems every other woman does but I digress – and as she had a large stomach she was referred to as ‘Beer Gut’ given her name was Birgit. If that image wasn’t bad enough, one of the female executives made her thoughts known to me by saying: ‘If she dresses and looks that way, exactly what else she cares about?’
Investing in a suit or some form of smart casual clothing, pays for itself in the long run, when one has to attend meetings, job interviews, auditions. Depending on the people and organisations you will have dealings with, dress appropriately. If you are going to a job interview, the corporate look i.e. Suit and tie is always the safe bet, plus it tells people you take pride in yourself and the way you look. The same goes for smart casual for less formal events. Frayed jeans ripped in the knees and off-white t-shirts make for a bad impression if you are going to a less formal engagement. That said, there are certain places, venues and social gatherings, where the corporate look would most definitely be out of place but then the company one chooses to keep, also says something about you in the eyes of others. So every so often, ask yourself the question: ‘How do I want the world to see me?’ And think about how your behaviour matches that question. And when you have worked all that out, play the game. You may be showing people you are playing the game by their rules but again in the long term, others will be playing the game by your rules. First impressions and the perceptions of others really do count. Never forget that.
Focus on your values
- What are your values?
- What are the things that matter to you?
- Due diligence?
It could be all of the above or other things. By knowing yourself and what drives you, it becomes easy to recognise what satisfies you and will make you much more productive, creative in your work and other projects be they personal or professional. When it comes to your skill set, what you do, what you offer in your current role or creativity and what you can offer a future employer or business partners becomes much clearer. Having these things at the forefront of your mind will help big time when it comes to adapting your behaviour in any given situation.
Stick to a timeframe
Something I have struggled with over the years. “I can only set timeframes if I am master of my own destiny and have loads of money in the bank,” is the way I used to think. And procrastinated about it even. The problem with waiting for the above to happen is, it will make your life a long and unhappy one, where each day seems like a month of Sundays. Nothing is happening because you are doing nothing to make anything happen. Waiting for better days that will never come because you are not making those better days. Never be afraid to set timeframes. Have an agenda. It will give you a sense of purpose and a target to work towards. Think of where you want to be six months, a year from now and how is your present self, helping you to get there?
Working towards a deadline, an objective helps you to see where you are not only going but where you are coming from.
If you want to be perceived a certain way, make sure you are consistent….
Once you have identified a set of values and goals, are focusing on implementing them, this process should become natural. For example, think how you feel if a recognised brand appeared to go against its promoted values and apply this mind-set to the message and image you are giving out.
…in how you act (implementing what you have learned)
Now you know how you want to be seen (via your brand,) and how this will help you in your professional, personal life and endeavours, seek to phase these changes into your working life. You can’t nor will you transform overnight but seek to regularly check against those objectives you have already identified off a list so you are always moving in the right direction.
In the 21st Century, we should all be aware of how powerful a brand can be. Whether that is a logo that sells millions of products or perceived values that secure a legion of followers and the importance of having a strong brand today is obvious for all to see.
I have suggested above and you may have noted branding goes beyond businesses. You can develop your own personal brand to set you apart from others. We need to portray ourselves in the best possible light – be it in job interviews and/or securing involvement on exciting projects, to bagging that promotion, we need to be a brand people want to be involved with. We are judged in a matter of seconds on our appearance, how we behave and interact with others. How we market ourselves to others could make or break one’s career.
The challenge is to rise to the challenge and how we go about developing a brand unique to us. A personal brand needs to at once encompass your personal values and the individual skills that set you apart from everyone else. It will ultimately need to embody how you want to be seen by the world at large.
Wishing you every success!